What Is Your Pleasure? Vivisecting the Hellraiser series pt. 1


What happens when two Flixist writers who have seen only bits and pieces (or none at all) of a franchise have nothing better to do? Obviously, they team up to watch the entire franchise and write articles about it! And that’s exactly what Megan and I have done with the Hellraiser series.

I have fond memories of Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth from a VHS that I recorded the Sci-Fi Channel cut of the film onto and vague recollections of first, second, and fourth movies. Megan, on the other hand, has not seen any of the films.

With that being said, we do hope you’ll join us on this decent into Hell. To spare you the madness we’re subjecting ourselves to, we’ve split this nine-film franchise into three parts.

Also, we’ve rated the movies out of five adorable Kawaii Cenobites. Enjoy!

"Hellraiser (1987)" Theatrical Trailer


Director: Clive Barker

Release date: September 11. 1987

The Good

I really enjoyed a good majority of this movie, to be honest. If I had to pick a favorite thing, I’d have to say Frank made for an excellent antagonist, and the skinless look was pretty freaking cool. Everybody expects Pinhead and company to be the primary antagonists, but they were relegated to last act additions for the most part, leaving Frank (and the far less charming Julia) to ooze their creepiness all over the place. Also, Kirsty is a total babe. – Sean

The best part of this one is when Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites show up at the end to give Frank and Julia what they deserve. It’s easy to spend the whole movie eagerly anticipating that. – Megan

The Bad

The other side of the Cenobites getting little screen is that I spent the whole movie waiting for Pinhead to show up. He did at the end, for a pretty great climax, but I was left playing the waiting game. – Sean

I wouldn’t judge the acting in this movie too harshly, but Kirsty’s dad, Larry (Andrew Robinson) is pretty bland throughout. – Megan


The first dude Julia takes out got his face rearranging with a hammer. It was a pretty jarring experience. Also, the monster that randomly showed up at the end (“the Engineer“) was pretty random. – Sean

The biggest WTF moment is when Frank is trying to get all sexy with Kirsty, his niece. The whole “Come to Daddy” thing was so gross. – Megan

Favorite Part

Pretty much every scene with Frank. He really killed it, as it were. If I had to pick one, I’d actually go with Megan’s WTF choice. – Sean

It’s not necessarily a single scene in the movie. I’d never seen any of the Hellraiser series until watching them with Sean, and honestly I think my favorite part about them is the look of the Cenobites. They’re pretty iconic at this point. – Megan

Final Thoughts

I remember bits and pieces of this film, but watching it in one go was a delight. A strong start to build a franchise on, for sure. – Sean

I definitely enjoyed this movie a lot more than I thought I would. I wouldn’t call it horror, exactly, but there’s something fun about all the gory insanity Kirsty gets involved in. – Megan

Hellbound: Hellraiser II

Director: Tony Randel

Release date: December 23, 1988

The Good

Lots more cenobite action, and a pretty cool representation of hell. Dr. Channard made an excellent villain, and Julia’s turn as the skinless antagonist was pretty cool to see. Also, we get Pinhead’s origin! – Sean

In this installment we get to see way more of what Hell looks like, which was awesome. It totally reminded me of a more messed up version of Labyrinth, but instead of David Bowie at the end, there’s Pinhead. – Megan

The Bad

Not enough Frank. Also, the cenobites are reduced to their human forms randomly, and their origins (aside from Pinhead’s) are never, ever, ever elaborated on. Why is Chatterer a kid??  – Sean

Kyle was the biggest, most useless wuss ever. Also, I second Sean. Needs more Frank! – Megan


Kyle telling Kirsty he’ll be right back, bopping out of the scene, and returning immediately. I’m still not entirely clear on what the hell that was. Also, all the patients in the mental hospital working on puzzle boxes. Pretty creepy! – Sean 

The scene where the puzzle-obsessed girl is in Hell and comes across a random circus was super bizarre and totally didn’t fit with the rest of the movie. Also, when the evil doctor guy revived Julia and wrapped her like a mummy before making out with her. Eeeeewwwww. – Megan

Favorite Part

The best part is absolutely when Julia gets pulled out of her skin and is no more. Later, loser! – Megan

I’m with Megan. That was awesome. – Sean

Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this film. It had more cenobites, expanded the non-cenobite cast, had a lot of creepy stuff going on, and featured series cutie Kirsty wearing another person’s skin, which was pretty cool. I’m a softie for any representation of Hell, and Hellraiser II really managed to capture a cool vision if it, weird carnival or no weird carnival.  – Sean

Hellbound is my favorite of the series so far. It’s the most creative, and it left me wondering about the Cenobites’ histories and what this Leviathan thing is. – Megan

Hellraiser III: Hell on Earth

Director: Anthony Hickox

Release date: September 11, 1992

The Good

I really love the new cenobites, especially J.P. Monroe’s cenobite form. He was no Frank, but certainly a contender. – Sean

When Pinhead shows up at the club and totally murders everybody, I felt like I was being rewarded for watching two hours of garbage. – Megan

The Bad

Zero Frank. Video footage of Kirsty. The conclusion of the film was a lot short than I remember from my teens. – Sean

Any scene with J.P. Monroe (Kevin Bernhardt) was just painful. I get that the character’s supposed to be unlikable anyway, but uuuuuggggghhhh. Also, Terri (Paula Marshall), the goth girl, was incredibly annoying. – Megan


When J.P. Monroe sacrifices the girl to the Pinhead statue and her skin is pretty much ripped off in one fell swoop. You don’t really see that in movies. Also, the club massacre was like the climax of Carrie on crack. – Sean

After Pinhead murders the crap out of everybody, a bunch of new Cenobites show up. One of them shoots CDs from his chest!!! WHAT EVEN IS GOING ON IN THIS MOVIE?? – Megan

Favorite Part

Definitely the end, where Joey drops the box into the foundation of a building under contruction and then we see that the building is basically a giant puzzle box. That is awesome. – Sean

When Joey (Terry Ferrell) and Captain Spencer (Doug Bradley, who also plays Pinhead) are talking, Joey asks Spencer, “What the hell is going on?”

And Spender’s reply is… “Hell is exactly what’s going on.”

That’s seriously the silliest line ever. – Megan

Final Thoughts

This movie was not quite as awesome as I remember from my teens, but it was still pretty awesome. Having a vague idea of how crappy the franchise gets as it progresses, Hell on Earth looks pretty good all the same. – Sean

I definitely didn’t like this one as much as 1 or 2, but we’ve still got 6 films to go, so I won’t say it’s the worst. – Megan

Part II coming soon!